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February 07, 2003

Israel and the United Nations

We have repeatedly been been told that Israel cannot be a member of the Security council and has always been excluded from the numerous bodies of the UN and can never be a president of the general assembly. She is one of the oldest members of the UN.
I asked the question of the "cyberschoolbus" - a site set up by the UN and have received a response, copied below in full. Secondly, Israel, in it's own UN web site deals with the issue in even more detail. The linked site is easy to read, and relatively brief. My suggestion is that our respective governments be lobbied with direct information, to correct a grievous anomaly.
The five Permanent Members of the Security Council as I'm sure you know are USA, UK, China, France, and the Russian Federation. There are ten revolving seats which each have a two-tear term. This is a list of the
current Member States on the Security Council (click down to MEMBERS):

The Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN's interptetation of events is excerpted below, from Israel's UN web site.

Prior to May 2000, Israel was the only UN Member State excluded from a UN regional grouping. This state of affairs stemmed primarily from a rejection by Arab states of Israel's membership in the Asian group. As a result, Israel was denied membership in a number of important UN bodies, including the Security Council in violation of the principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the UN Charter. Israel also could not be elected to the vast majority of bodies in the UN system, where voting is based on membership in a regional group. Thus, Israel was unable to serve as the President of the General Assembly, or as a member of any bureau in the GA and its main committees.

As of May 2000, Israel was accepted as a temporary member of the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). This elopment helps to rectify an anomaly,which hs affected no other nation in the world and marks an important first step towards the full ntegration of Israel into the United Nations system. Israel has agreed to continue to seek membership in its natural grouping in the Asian group.

While Israel's admission into WEOG signified an important development, it remains excluded from the regional groups system in international organizations and conferences outside New York. For this discriminatory anomaly to be fully rectified Israel must be included in the regional groups system outside New York so that it can be fairly represented and participated in all international organizations and conferences, on an equal basis with all other states.

It is unclear to me whether it is a rule that a Member State cannot be a Member of the Security Council simply because it did not belong to a geographical grouping.

I am copying my good colleague Lydia Ramos on this email. She works for the Department of Public Inquiries, the last word on all things UN. Perhaps she can clear things up on this most perplexing issue.

Thanks for writing.


Colleen Werthmann
Research Editor
United Nations Cyberschoolbus